The traders sell a variety of goods, ranging from beadwork to leather- and metalcraft yet their future livelihood is in question since the traders have been told by the museum that the Drosty Arch area is not a trading zone.
Nothemba Makina, 48, who has been a trader for 19 years, says if she cannot afford to eb evicted. “We have children to support, and there are no jobs in this town,” said Makina.
“Former president Thabo Mbeki told us to 'vuk'uzenzele' – arise and act – and that is exactly what we are doing here,” said Makina. “We have been trading here for many years without any problems. Why now?” she asked.
Nowethu January, who has been trading under the arch for 15 years said traders are not making much money, but at least she was able to send her two children to school.
“With the little money we get here, we are able to buy electricity and put food on the table,” said January.
43-year-old Zimbabwean, Munyaradzi Chidakwa, who sells wire- and metal-work said he did not know where to go to, because this was the only place in town he got customers.
“This worries me," Chidakwa said. "Sometimes we get orders from the students; sometimes from people who are passing by. This is my only source of income. Why do they (the museum) have a problem with us now?”
Albany Museum manager Bongani Mgijima said the area was not zoned for trading activities.
“This is the entrance to the university, and we cannot allow everyone to come and put their products here for trading purposes,” he explained.
Mgijima said he had four meetings with the traders before serving them with an eviction notice. He has also offered to help some of them find alternative trading spots.